How can I give charitably? #Charity365

‘God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Acts 10:30-31

Recently, I checked off a to-do I’ve been meaning to-actually-do for some time: I added two local organizations to my charitable giving to complement my regional and international charitable giving.

I say this with some trepidation because I don’t want to attract praise for doing so–“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”–but what I do want even more is to encourage everyone to consider starting to give charitably so that we can help out those who really need it on an even bigger scale. We are wildly, fantastically rich, in all ways, in first world countries, start giving now and you will begin to see all kinds of personal benefits.

Start anywhere. Really, don’t sweat it.

It’s so easy to start. I started giving $10/month to three charities – less than one percent of my income. As I continued, and realized I could give more, I started increasing my giving and expanding the scope of those I was donating to.

This time around I want to focus on the immediate how-to because it’s so easy and so convenient and is so rewarding to know that, yes, while you are incredibly blessed in your country, you do want to help others and you are trying and you have tangible actions that show your heart is in the right place.

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How to Help ISIS Persecuted Christians #Charity365

The latest atrocities by the Muslim group, ISIS, includes a video of the shooting or beheading deaths of thirty Ethiopian Christians. In previous posts, Charity 360 and Charity 365, I laid out my experience in charitable giving. In the latter post I talked about expanding to include more global and humanitarian groups. If you don’t know how to help here’s a few organizations to support that are helping persecuted Christians in general or are in the Syria/Iraq area directly affected by ISIS…

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Sanctus Valentinus: Behind the Verse

Oh, Saint, to your name, thereof,
My question is this, what is love?

On a warm summer’s day, sunshine beaming down on country fields, and in the vibrant spring of my life, many, many years ago now, I once spoke these fateful words to a certain girl I liked very much: I don’t know what love is. What precipitated this sad half-truth was a silly conversation, strewn with longing undertones and yearning unsaids. Half-truth, I call it, and still do, even from the moment the words slipped from my mouth. I knew I could love, I believed I had been doing it for some time, but with such an abstract term, complicated by our overuse, I still wondered at, and was haunted by, the question: What is love?

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C.S. Lewis is Cleverer Than You Think

My good friend, Jamie, liked a Relevant Magazine article today titled C.S. Lewis’ 3 Most Controversial Beliefs. Both of us are a big fans of Lewis and it piqued my interest as much as Jamie’s, I’m sure. Some of the “controversies” noted would surely either convince his admirers that some of these claims are actually attributable to Lewis and are biblically acceptable or may shake the faith of Lewis’ more die-hard fans, such as myself, and wonder about the foundations of Lewis’ personal faith. Having read a lot first-hand from Lewis, and second-hand of the man, I nearly immediately recognized these claims were probably not what they were really claiming.

You see, the thing about really clever men and women, like Lewis, is that they’re clever enough to know when they’re beat, even when they are miserably unhappy such as on the amusing-for-us occasion of Lewis’ conversion. It is this trait of Lewis, and all truly clever men and women, that propels, or drags, an individual from one intellectual peak to the next. Such is the case with Lewis and these purported controversies.

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After Atheism: New Perspectives on God and Religion

When I work from home I often listen to podcasts and I’ve been listening to CBC Radio Ideas’ After Atheism this week. This is what I’d call a post-post-modern look at religion and materialism over the past few thousand years. This is a compliment as they recognize things like the resurgence of spiritual interest, the myth of religious violence, the actual (not supposed) factors at play in the separation of church and state. They even recognize Christianity specifically has been behind many social change movements and demonstrably not just an ‘internal, private spirituality’ thing.

The episodes are long and in-depth but, for the first time in a long time, CBC is giving as fair a shake as can be expected to faith in general and, in places, to Christianity in particular.

It’s by no means pro-Christian but it’s decent place for open discussion.

Literally: Sad, Frustrated, Distracted. But Love. Church Heresies Then and Now.

So, the latest intra-Christian controversy to blow up is popular Christian worship act Gungor’s denial of the ‘literal’ reading of scripture, particularly Genesis, the creation account, Adam and Eve, and the Flood. This of course triggering the day before our traditional day of worship when Christians come together to worship God their saviour in spirit and truth. This, of course, all comes on the heels of the Tim Lambesis story who allegedly attempted to hire a hitman to murder his wife. It’s hard to try to move one’s heart towards God when we’re distracted by emotional issues like these. Here’s a few of the articles circulating:

It’s saddening, frustrating, and distracting…

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We have to go back

I just got done watching the entire series of Lost on Netflix for the second time. What a trip. What story telling. This time around things came a little bit easier. I more often had “aha!” moments and more than a few head-nods to the writer’s foreshadowing. For having gone as long as it did, for having kept almost all of its cast members the entire time, for having a grand story arch they stuck to and finished, and for the sheer magnitude of the undertaking, I can’t think of a better television series. Believe me, I’m a Browncoat, so you can take that to the bank. ;) So, if we have to go back, here are my main take-aways from the show’s six-year run…*spoiler warning*

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Is this the ultimate Christian love song?

Ever since I made a concerted effort to explore the Christian music scene, and discover the “good music” that I knew was out there, I’ve been aware of the controversy of Christian love songs. Controversy? Yes, in between the awkward attempts and lame lyrics, there were a number of good sounding attempts (for their time), but I found, like many, they played on sophomoric sleight of hand with ‘God is my girlfriend’ lyrics. There are Christian songs that appear to easily swap out “Jesus” for “girl”, and vice versa, without harming the content in anyway. And if the lyrics stand on their own, some are so ambiguous as to cast doubt on who exactly is the subject of the love. Astoundingly, for a faith that holds love as the highest ethic and motive, there are woefully few good Christian love songs. Now, however, I think I’ve found a truly exemplary one: And, if you’re reading a blog like this, I’m sure you’ve heard it and probably already love it, too.

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Sanctus Valentinus

Oh, Saint, can you hear my voice from ages past?
I hope against hope because your voice seems to be the last.

Oh, Saint, may I ask a question?
Will you proffer a suggestion?

Oh, Saint, to your name, thereof,
My question is this, what is love?

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New Year’s Eve 2012

Praise the LORD!
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever!
Psalms 106:1

Thank you, Lord, for this past year. I am amazed at Your goodness, your will for me, your blessings to me and opportunities to serve you.

You know I haven’t had the best of days
But I want to stop and thank you anyway

Cuz every single moment whether sleeping or awake
Is your creation
And what you’ve made is good
I don’t always thank you for the rough days and
The hard times in my life
Even though I should

It’s odd to come to this point in the year and be thinking about O.C. Supertone’s Jury Duty but that’s how I feel about this year, particularly the lyrics referring to being thankful for the “rough days and hard times.” Oddly enough, these feelings aren’t about screw ups, or what we often think of as punishment or God’s discipline, but instead it had to do with positive decisions on my part that are causing anguish for a time with the hope of long term reward. I did this knowingly, but it’s one thing to understand a thing in the mind, it’s another to execute and endure that thing in the flesh over a period of time.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Psalms 27:13-14

I will wait and trust in the Lord for his good plans because I know what He has planned for me exceeds my vain dreams and fantasies. I know this first hand.

One thing I have found invaluable this year is reading the scriptures. For the latter half of 2012 I started posting certain verses from my daily reading of the bible to Facebook. The reason I do this is because (1) I know God’s Word is living and active, and (2) I have always had difficulty describing just how brilliant the bible really is. So I decided to let God’s Word speak for itself since God has said it will not return empty. I truly believe the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of those who hear the Word and there will be results – I don’t have to dress up God’s Word.

Once again I think I’ll close with the words to Blessed Be Your Name as a reminder to myself to give thanks in all things,

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Selah.